Tag Archives: Waste Tanks

20150416-20 (R-M) MO, IL, IN

2015/04/16 (R) Carthage, MO to Edwardsville, IL

[Note:  There are no photos for these posts.]

I was awakened from a light sleep this morning by a change in the sound of our auxiliary air compressor and the pneumatic systems on the bus.  A valve that whines in a certain way as the system fills with air changed its tune and the compressor ran longer than it normally does and did not shut off.  I got up, turned it off, turned it back on and it finally completed its cycle and shut off automatically.  At that point I was up and wide awake so I got dressed.  Linda was awake by that point too so I suggested that we just get an early start on today’s journey, and that is what we did.  We pulled out of our site at the Coachlight RV Park at 7:30 AM and a few minutes later we were headed south on I-49.  Less than a mile later we looped around the cloverleaf interchange onto I-44 headed east.

The sky was overcast and we ran in and out of fog and mist as we traveled up and down the rolling hills of southwest Missouri with spring in full bloom.  The temperature was cool and the conditions made for easier driving than having a bright morning sun in my eyes.  Traffic was light to moderate for the first 2/3rds of the trip, albeit heavier passing through Springfield and Rolla.  About 200 miles into our trip we stopped at the Flying J at exit 226.  I-44 was now six lanes and we were at the fringe of heavier urban traffic and encountered a center lane closure on a bridge which brought traffic to a halt.  We patiently worked our way through that and a little farther along exited I-44 onto I-270 which became I-255 and took us across the mighty Mississippi River into Illinois, most of the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area to our north.

Once we crossed the river and traveled a few miles traffic thinned out but we bumped our way along as the road surface on this stretch of I-255 was very rough.  We exited I-255 onto I-55N/I-70E and then stayed with I-55 when it split from I-70.  It was a good thing, too, as I-70E was backed up all the way to the split with traffic stopped and a sign announcing long delays and advising motorists to seek an alternate route.  A few more miles and we were at our exit for IL-143, crossed over the highway, did a 180 onto the service road, and drove the last mile to the entrance to the Red BaRn RendezVous RV Park just east of Edwardsville, Illinois.

The entrance to the RV Park was a bit narrow but wide enough that I was able to swing in off the service road.  The interior gravel roads were also narrow, and I had to snake past the office, but they turned out to be just wide enough to accommodate an RV our size.  The office was closed but there was a note on the door with our name and site number.  The site had trees on either side that did not appear to be trimmed up high enough but it turned out that they were.

While not a destination park Red BaRn RendezVous is a nice little place in a location convenient to Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, Illinois, where Linda’s sister lives, and the Interstate highways that will get us to my sister’s house in 30 to 40 minutes.  The office building has men’s and women’s restrooms with showers and a small but well equipped laundry.  We had no commitments to visit anyone today and were in early enough that Linda gathered up the laundry and we carried it over to the laundry room.

Linda had some fresh blueberries that needed to be used so she made vegan blueberry pancakes for dinner.  We do not have these very often but they are a real treat when we do.  We were both tired and had headaches, unusual for me but not for Linda, and decided to drive into Edwardsville and find the Walmart.  We wanted to buy a present for Lilly and it gave us a reason/place to stretch our legs.  Back at the rig we located the OTA TV towers, oriented our front OTA TV antenna, and watched episodes of The Big Bang Theory while diddling on our iPads and computers.  I hate to lose a block of potentially useful time but I was not up to working on photos and blog posts and diddling was the best I could manage.

The only “issue” we had with the bus today involved the behavior of the air system.  There are three air pressure gauges in the cockpit—primary and secondary on the dashboard, and auxiliary to the side—corresponding to the three “systems” that operate the chassis (brakes and suspension), and accessories (belt tensioners, radiator shutters, air horns, step slides, and house components).  The air from the main engine air compressor goes through a dryer that removes moisture and then goes to the primary, secondary, and auxiliary tanks.  It sounds simple but it is a bit more complicated than that.  I returned an earlier phone call from Butch and discussed this with him.

As best I understand it (and care to take time to explain it here) a valve, or set of valves, regulates where the compressed air goes and the top priority is the brakes.  The primary tank/system supplies air to the rear brakes and the secondary tank/system provides air to the front brakes (or vice versa).  Until the air requirements of the brake systems are satisfied air does not flow to the suspension or accessories.  Once all of the systems are pressurized they are isolated from one another so that a failure of any component will not affect the other systems.  It is a clever, fault-tolerant design that works well and has stood the test of time.  The components are used on 18-wheelers, fire trucks, and all manner of heavy highway equipment, including commercial buses in passenger service.

When the system is working correctly this is what I normally see when driving.  When the systems are fully pressurized the primary, secondary, and auxiliary air pressure gauges all read ~130 PSI.  The primary and secondary gauges will stay at that pressure unless/until I apply the brakes.  The auxiliary gauge, however, will drop over time due to small leaks somewhere that I have not been able to isolate.  Once the pressure in any of the systems drops to about 90 PSI, which is almost always the auxiliary system, the main engine air compressor kicks in and brings the pressure in all of the systems back up to ~130 PSI.

What I saw for most of the drive today was different, and that is always a cause for concern and makes driving less enjoyable.  All three gauges were showing a loss of pressure and the pressure in all three systems was the same.  The compressor was still working and would kick in at ~90 PSI and bring all three back up to ~130 PSI, so that was good, but the behavior suggested that one or more isolation valves had “stuck” in a position that kept all three systems tied together, which was not good.  Because of the larger volume of air being lost through the leak(s) in the auxiliary system it took a lot longer for the pressure to bleed down and it took longer for the compressor to bring it back up.

About four hours into our six hour trip we stopped for fuel at the Flying J Truck Stop at exit 226.  When we resumed our travel I noticed that one of the gauges (primary or secondary, not sure which) was holding its pressure while the other one continued to drop along with the auxiliary gauge.  An hour after that I noticed that both the primary and secondary gauges were holding pressure while the auxiliary gauge was cycling, and this behavior continued for the rest of the trip.  Thus it appeared that whatever caused the abnormal behavior had self-corrected.  My suspicion is that a stuck valve had gotten unstuck.  Once we were parked and set up the auxiliary air compressor cycled on and off properly, confirming that the isolation valve(s) was(were) once again working correctly.

2015/04/17 (F) My Side

We were up between 7:00 and 7:30 AM, not because we had to be but because we were rested and awake.  We had a quiet, relaxed morning enjoying our coffee and granola and using our iPads to check on the world (L) and work on yesterday’s blog post (me).  We configured the bus to ensure the cats’ comfort while we were away and left at 10:30 AM to drive to my sister’s house in Bridgeton, Missouri.  We stopped for fuel just short of her house and finally arrived around 11:30 AM.

We were greeted by Patty and Maggie, her one remaining dog.  We visited for an hour and then went to a Panera (St. Louis Bread Company) not far from her house for lunch.  We returned to her house to continue our visit and await the arrival of Ryan, Amanda, and Lilly, who showed up a little after 3 PM.  They would have come earlier but Ryan had a routine work-related physical on which his continued employment depended.  To everyone’s relief he passed so everyone was relaxed.  Lilly was initially surprised to see us but immediately gave us a big smile and went to Linda’s outstretched arms.  Lilly is 27 months old and is a cheerful, happy child who interacts easily with whomever is around.

Ryan and Amanda were hungry so at 4:30 PM we headed to El Maguey Mexican Restaurant for dinner.  We had taco salads with beans instead of animal protein and everyone seemed to like their food.  It is Amanda and Ryan’s favorite Mexican restaurant.  Amanda and Ryan headed home with Lilly and we drove back to Patty’s house to wrap up our visit while we waited for rush hour traffic to subside.

Brendan called and Linda got to “chat” with Madeline and then each of us took turns talking to him.  He had received his offer letter from Eastern Michigan University and acknowledged it, so he will start his tenure track assistant professorship in the art history department in September.  The discussions about initial course assignments, however, have already started.  He also mentioned that Shawna’s application for tenure at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor is looking very positive.  Both of those pieces of information were very good news for us.

We took our leave at 7:30 PM and got back to our coach just before darkness settled in.  Having spent a long day enjoying the company of family we settled in to watch a few shows on the local PBS station’s Create sub-channel before turning in for the night.

2015/04/18 (S) LF-M-LH Day 1

Yesterday Linda (LF) talked to Marilyn (M) briefly as we (B & LF) were driving back to the rig from Patty’s house and they (LF & M) agreed that we (LF & B) would arrive at Linda H’s (LH) house around 11 AM tomorrow, which is now today.  (Hopefully the LF and LH designations will help keep straight which Linda I am referring to.  Most of the rest of this post is about today not yesterday.)

We were up this morning at 7 AM and had our usual coffee and granola.  It’s a good thing we will be getting home soon because we only have one day’s supply left of LF’s homemade granola.  It is so good that we have stopped buying commercial granolas because they do not have any taste by comparison.

After a suitably relaxing start to our day I continued plugging away at editing blog posts and selecting/processing photographs to go with them.  I dealt with some e-mails and then we gathered up our stuff and headed to (LH’s) and Marilyn’s house in Glen Carbon, Illinois.  Glen Carbon and Edwardsville flow together to form a contiguous urban area but they are distinct municipalities with Glen Carbon being to the south of Edwardsville.

We are camped just to the east edge of Edwardsville on the edge of a corn field.  The RV park is conveniently located to I-55 and just 10 minutes from LH and M’s house so we were there by 11:15 AM.  LH and M had purchased various fresh ingredients for a salad and after sitting and visiting for a while Marilyn assembled the salad.  There was something going on at the house across the street that resulted in the wife calling the police and three cars/officers being dispatched to the scene.  LH said the husband was himself involved in law enforcement so that added a certain tension to the whole situation as he almost certainly had firearms in the house.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting until Marilyn had to leave for a gala fundraiser for a school that her Congregation supports.  We decided to continue visiting with LH and stay for dinner.  LH had a bag of shredded vegan mozzarella “cheese” so we ordered a mushroom and onion no-cheese pizza from Imo’s and she ordered a medium supreme.  I drove into town and picked up the pizzas.  When I got back we added the vegan cheese to ours and heated it in the oven long enough to melt it.  It was very good.

In recent times Imo’s was our favorite pizza (after the demise of the Luigi’s restaurants in the St. Louis area many years ago) but the last time we tried one without cheese it was not very satisfying.  The crust is thin and crisps nicely, the way we like it, and the sauce is slightly sweet and used sparingly, the way we like it, but their normal cheese, a mozzarella and provolone mix, is (apparently) what pulls together the pie’s uniquely fabulous taste.  While the vegan mozzarella was not an exact replacement it made for a very tasty meal, bringing both taste and texture to the pizza.

We needed to do some grocery shopping so we took our leave at 7:30 PM and drove to the Dierbergs supermarket in Edwardsville.  There are three grocery stores at the intersection of IL-159 and Governors Parkway, but Dierbergs was the most likely to have what we were looking for.  Our shopping done we headed east on Governors’ Parkway almost to I-55 and took the service road back to our RV park.  We gave our cats the attention they were seeking while Linda (LF) settled in with her e-book and I worked on the blog post for our two-day visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  I also proofread the final draft of the March 2015 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine and sent back my corrections.  I uploaded the blog post and then went to bed to work on the posts for yesterday and today.

2015/04/19 (N) LF-M-LH Day 2

Linda (LF) was up at 6:30 AM, earlier than usual, and I got up at 6:50 AM.  Before I had a chance to start making our morning coffee she pulled up the weather and showed me the radar.  Rain had been forecast to start just after midnight, and continue all day today and into tomorrow, but it appeared that it had not rained last night.  The radar, however, indicated that the rain was on our southern doorstep.  I needed to dump our holding tanks and refill our fresh water tank, so I took care of that while Linda made the coffee and updated her cost-of-camping spreadsheet.

The dump and fill process took me about an hour but we now have enough waste tank capacity and fresh water onboard to get us home with room to spare.  Based on Linda’s data our average nightly cost to “camp” this winter has been about $8.75.  Not bad.  Our average daily cost for our winter in Florida was over $20 which we felt was a very reasonable cost for wintering there.  We drove more miles this winter compared to last, almost double in fact, so we spent the money we saved on camping buying diesel fuel.  Fortunately diesel fuel prices in the central and western states where much lower than the prices in the southeast last year.  They were, in fact, the lowest prices we have seen in years so that was a nice break.

I updated my water usage spreadsheet while Linda got caught up on our personal accounting and bills.  Cell phones and cellular data, in conjunction with the Internet and electronic banking, have fundamentally transformed the full-time and extended-time RVing experience in ways that no one could have imagined 15 years ago.  I had an e-mail from Dropbox that Kate had joined a folder I had shared with her so I sent her a short e-mail updating her on our travel plans.  I also had an e-mail with the final draft of the print version of the March 2015 issue of BCM and verified that the corrections I uploaded last night had been made to my article.  I consolidated my blog posts for March 22 and 23 and finished editing them.  I had just started looking at the unprocessed photos for those posts when it was time to pack up and head to Marilyn and Linda’s (LH) house for the day.

The weather was overcast and gloomy and the rains eventually came, a perfect day to stay inside and eat, talk, and play games.  Marilyn has been making a real attempt at moving to a vegan diet so she prepared tomato soup and black bean burgers for lunch.  We then put the leaf in the dining room table and got out the Mexican Train dominoes game.  We brought hummus and Linda (LH) had made vegan guacamole so we enjoyed those with a few Fritos corn chips.  We also had fresh grapes and toasted almonds to munch on and a couple of bowls of popcorn.  We played 16 rounds of Mexican Train starting with the double 15 tile in the center and ending with the double “zero” (blank) in the center.  It was evening by the time we finished and everyone enjoyed having a whole day to hang out with family and friends with nothing more important to do than play a game.

We left just before 8 PM and drove through Edwardsville to get back to the RV Park rather than get on the Interstates.  There was very little on TV that interested us and we ended up watching an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  It was a very popular show in its day but is now very dated to the point of being almost silly.

Linda (LF) read and I selected/processed photos for my blog post about our visits to Ajo, Arizona on March 22nd and 23rd.  I got the post and photos uploaded and then went to bed.

2015/04/20 (M) Edwardsville, IL to Twelve Mile, IN

Linda was up a little before 7 AM and I was up a little after.  Today was a travel day, so we did not make coffee or have breakfast.  We were not hungry anyway having had our fill of food, both good and junk, yesterday.  We each had a cup of tea while we got our day started.

We started getting ready to leave around 9 AM and finally pulled out of the Red BaRn RendezVous RV Park at 9:50 AM.  We had about 330 miles to travel to get from Edwardsville, Illinois to Twelve Mile, Indiana.  Since the RV park is just off of I-55 we took I-55 north to I-72 near Springfield, followed that east to I-57 and then took that north to US-24.  We followed US-24 east and moved from Central Daylight Time to Eastern Daylight Time sometime after we crossed into Indiana.  US-24 joined up with US-35 to bypass Logansport, Indiana to its south and then split off to continue east towards Peru.  We picked up US-31 just before Peru and took that north to IN-16 where we headed back west about five miles to Twelve Mile.  It was 5 PM (EDT) when we arrived at Butch and Fonda Williams’ place.  The bus ran well except for a couple of tattletale lights that started blinking briefly towards the end of the trip.  The previous problem with the chassis air systems did not reoccur.

I checked the manual after we got parked and one of the lights was for a chassis battery voltage Hi/Low condition and the other was for the upper and lower 12 V strands of the chassis battery being out-of-balance.  Both conditions, if true, might implicate the Vanner battery equalizer but the first diagnostic step will be to check the circuit breakers.  The next step will be to check all of the battery connections, including the Vanner.  One of the things on my To-Do list is to swap the upper and lower batteries as the “24V” gauge on the dashboard usually reads 29 V and the “12V” gauge usually reads 14 V or slightly less if I have the headlights turned on.

Butch and Fonda had to take his parents to medical appointments in Lafayette, Indiana today and got home just before we arrived.  We did not realize they were there but that was OK; they knew we were coming and we have a nice level spot to park on concrete with a “50 A” electrical connection when we are here.  (It’s a 240 VAC connection with a 50 A RV outlet but we can only draw about 30 amps on each leg.)  Even though we left home on November 30, 2014 Twelve Mile feels like the place where our trip to the southwest U.S. began as we left from here in a caravan with Butch and Fonda on December 3rd.

We were settled in our spot and had our WiFiRanger connected to their Wi-Fi access point when Butch and Fonda either realized we were there, or that we were not going to knock on their door, and came over and knocked on ours instead.  They came in our bus and we talked for over an hour at which point Butch needed to deal with a Facebook group admin issue.  After they returned to the house Linda started preparing our dinner while I checked e-mail and then continued working on this blog post.

Linda sautéed onions, mushrooms, and garlic in a little olive oil and added torn spinach at the end.  She cooked two baking potatoes in the microwave oven and served them with the sautéed vegetables as a topping along with some almond milk jalapeño pepper jack vegan cheese.  A simple but satisfying dish on a cool, clammy evening.  We also had some black grapes with the meal which were tasty and refreshing.  We made two large cups of hot tea and took them to the house where we visited with Butch and Fonda some more.  By 10 PM we were too tired to be good company so we returned to our coach and went to bed.


2015/02/06 (F) KOFA NWR Palm Canyon


Palm Canyon Road entrance to KOFA NWR.

Palm Canyon Road entrance to KOFA NWR.

I slept in until 8 AM, got up, put on my sweats, and made a pot of coffee.  While that was brewing I turned the TT-400C TPMS monitor on and then adjusted the pressures in the four car tires and checked the passenger side steer tire on the bus.  Based on the temperatures it was reporting the monitor appeared to not be picking up the six rear tires on the bus so I plugged the PressurePro repeater in.  It is mounted in the passenger side rear corner bedroom cabinet and Darryl Lawrence said it should work fine with the TT-400C monitor.  Consumer TPM Systems all operate on the same frequency of 433.92 MHz and the repeater just receives, amplifies, and retransmits signals on that frequency.  The sensors have a unique digital identity and send out an encoded digital signal; that’s how the receiver/monitors know which signals to display and ignore the rest.

Linda in the parking lot at the mouth of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

Linda in the parking lot at the mouth of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.



After a breakfast of juice and cinnamon raisin oatmeal Linda went for a walk while the air temperature was still cool.  I stayed at the coach and dumped the holding tanks, made up our mixture of a bottle of PineSol with an equal amount of water and a cup of Calgon bath beads.  Shake until dissolved and add ~60% to the black tank (via the toilet) and the other 40% to the gray tank via the bathroom and kitchen sinks, including the In-Sink-Erator.





The beginnng of the Palm Canyon trail, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The beginnng of the Palm Canyon trail, KOFA NWR, AZ.



With my chores done I recorded the dump in our notebook and then added the information to our Water Usage spreadsheet.  According to the spreadsheet and our notebook it had been 19 days since we last emptied the waste tanks.  I knew that wasn’t possible as we normally dump every 9 to 10 days when we are in normal water usage mode, and Marilyn was here for the first half of that interval.  Clearly we had forgotten to record a dump 9 or 10 days ago.



The north wall farther into Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall farther into Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.




I finished working on some additional draft items for the survey the FMCA National Education Committee wants to send out.  I sent them to the committee chair (Gaye) and the member whose items I was revising.  We have another phone meeting on Monday and I wanted to get these items out to the committee by tomorrow so the members have time to look at them.








I got an e-mail from Gary at BCM last night advising the editor that I was doing an article on Quartzsite for the February 2015 issue and would have it done by the end of next week.  I e-mailed him back last night and then wrote it this morning and e-mailed it to him and Mike, the editor, for review.  Although I am no longer employed, I sometimes still work better against a deadline.

Deeper into Palm Canyon approaching the 1/2 mile mark.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Deeper into Palm Canyon approaching the 1/2 mile mark. KOFA NWR, AZ.

After cleaning and waxing the bus and spending a lot of time sitting in front of our computers we wanted to get away from camp and do some sight-seeing.  The repair we had done yesterday to the passenger side rear tire on our car seemed to be holding so at 2PM we headed for the King OF Arizona (KOFA) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Palm Canyon area about 20 miles south of town.

A lone palm backlit high up on the south wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

A lone palm backlit high up on the south wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

This seemed like a good spot to stop and let Linda take my picture for a change.  Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

This seemed like a good spot to stop and let Linda take my picture for a change. Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

Palm Canyon is an enormous slot in the Kofa Mountains.  The canyon is aligned ENE to WSW opening to the WSW so we figured the best light would be in the mid-to-late afternoon.  To get there we drove south out of Quartzsite on US-95 about 19 miles to Palm Canyon Road and then east for seven miles on a good gravel roadway.  Good is relative, of course; it took as long to drive the 7 miles as it did the 19.  The trailhead is at the end of the road, which is the beginning of the canyon.  There are also several areas just off the parking/turnaround designated for tent camping, and it would be a spectacular place to pitch a tent.  The last mile or so of the road climbs more than you realize until you get to the parking area and are treated to a sweeping view of part of the La Paz Valley that stretches for over 100 miles from Parker on the north end to somewhere north of Yuma on the south end.


Looking WSW back out of Palm Canyon at the La Paz Valley.  The trail climbs it goes deeper into the canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Looking WSW back out of Palm Canyon at the La Paz Valley. The trail climbs it goes deeper into the canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.


There they are!  The fan palms of Palm Canyon high up in a shaded crevice on the south wall of the canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

There they are! The fan palms of Palm Canyon high up in a shaded crevice on the south wall of the canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.

The trail is a 1/2 mile hike into the canyon near the floor but to the south of, and above, the central drainage wash.  The canyon is named for the California Fan Palm trees that grow there; the only naturally occurring Palm trees in Arizona.  There is lots of other vegetation in the canyon, however, and the palms are a bit elusive.  About a half mile in there is a small wooden sign with an arrow pointing up to the left at a 45 degree angle.  All the sign had on it was the word “PALMS.”  And there they were, way up in a narrow crevice.  Mind you, some of the trees in this main grove have trunks that are 20 inches in diameter, but the canyon is a big place and the trees are far away from where we were standing.  The only wildlife we saw up close were small lizards about 3″ long, 6″ with their tails.  We heard and then saw a bird soaring high above the southern edge of the canyon but could not tell what it was.


Delicate colors on the north wall of Palm Canyon in the late afternoon sun.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Delicate colors on the north wall of Palm Canyon in the late afternoon sun. KOFA NWR, AZ.


The light was nice hiking in and got better and better as we hiked out.  The trail climbs quite a bit from the parking area, but not steeply in any one place.  We took our time and I took a lot of photographs.  By the time we got back in our car the sun had slipped behind the Dome Rock Mountain Range that defines the western edge of the La Paz Valley.  We had nice colors in every direction but without any clouds we did have a particularly photogenic sunset.  By the time we got back to US-95 it was approaching 6:20 PM and we needed our headlights even through the glow along the crest of the mountains continued almost all the way back to town.

Looking back into Palm Canyon as we hike out.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Looking back into Palm Canyon as we hike out. KOFA NWR, AZ.




Linda made a green salad with fresh tomatoes and blueberries, dried fruit, and nuts and dressed it with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.  She heated up a couple of tortillas and used them to make a quesadilla-like thing with Daiya (vegan) cheese, tomato slices, and jalapeño pepper slices.  We had a small glass of Franzia Refreshing White wine with dinner and had red grapes for desert.



Before we left for our hike I had unplugged the power supply from my ASUS notebook computer to let it cool off.  It seems to me that it runs hot.  I plugged it in when we got back and had a notification on the screen that the computer needed to be restarted to complete the installation of updates.


The only wildlife we saw up close in Palm Canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

The only wildlife we saw up close in Palm Canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.


The north wall at the entrance to Palm Canyon in the glow of sunset.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall at the entrance to Palm Canyon in the glow of sunset. KOFA NWR, AZ.

I decided to check my e-mail first and had a couple from Gary, so I called him after we finished dinner and we chatted for about an hour.  It sounds like the article I sent him this morning on Quartzsite 2015 won’t run until the March issue, so that will give me a little more time to select and process photos, experience more things here, and possibly extend the article a bit.  In the meantime Gary is going to have Stacy proofread all of the articles that are ready plus the one I just sent.



My ASUS laptop keyboard appears to be functioning correctly again so I was reluctant to restart my computer, but the message said it would restart in one day on its own anyway.  I guess there’s no time like the present to find out if the machine has a problem.  It finished whatever it was it needed to do, powered down, and restarted without a hitch.  I then copied all of the photos from our canyon hike to the computer and NAS and started looking at them.  I processed a few and then went to bed.


2014/06/15 Family Time

We were parked in a fenced compound area next to the regular “campground” at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.  The campground has gravel sites with 50A full hookups, and we were allowed/encouraged to use the sewer connections to dump our holding tanks before departing this morning.  We had checked out the campground last night and decided that it would be easier for us to pull around to the dump stations on the outer road than to maneuver into and out of one of the open campground sites, all of which were back-ins.

I have mentioned before what a nice facility this is.  Several of our GLCC members are from north central Indiana and explained to us that the fairground is as nice as it is because it is booked every week for most of the year, winter being the exception.  Elkhart is considered the center of the RV industry in the U.S., but the reality is that RV-related industry is located throughout north central Indiana, and a little bit of southern Michigan, with a few facilities in other parts of Indiana and Ohio.  There is also significant RV industry in California, Oregon, and Florida, and to a lesser extent in Pennsylvania and Alabama.  By “RV Industry” I am referring to manufacturing, not RV parks, resorts and campgrounds, or RV dealers and service facilities, which are obviously located all over the place.

We skipped breakfast and coffee, as we always do on travel days.  Linda prepared the inside for travel and then we visited for a while with our GLCC friends.  Around 9:00 AM I unplugged the electrical power, stowed the cord, turned on the chassis batteries, opened the air valve for the engine accessories, and fired up the engine.  I did not have any trouble getting out of our parking spot or the compound.  I drove over to the dump station, which can accommodate nine RVs at one time, and Linda followed in the car.  While the holding tanks were emptying we hooked up the car for towing.  With everything stowed and secured for travel we checked the toad controls and lights and were on our way, exiting the fairgrounds at 9:25 AM.

We followed the same route home that we used when we left the Escapade rally a month ago: CR-34 (Monroe St.) east to CR-29 north to IN-4 east to IN-13 north to US-20 east to I-69 north to I-96 east to M-59 east and finally a couple of miles of dirt roads to our house.  We stopped at the Travel America (T/A) truck stop on M-60 at I-69 to put biocide and Stanadyne diesel additive in the tank along with 75 gallons of diesel fuel.

We had just over 1/4 tank of fuel indicated on the fuel gauge when we pulled in to the T/A.  If the gauge is anywhere near accurate that was approximately 50 gallons of fuel, enough to travel another 200 miles and still have 15 – 20 gallons in the tank; more than enough to get us to the Mobil truck stop on I-96 about 25 miles before our house.  I wanted to use as much of the fuel in the tank as I could before adding more but did not want to risk running out or sucking sediment off the bottom and clogging the fuel filters.  In the end we decided it was safer to stop and add fuel while we still had the 1/4 tank.  The 75 gallons brought the fuel gauge up to 5/8ths, which is what I expected.  The fuel tank capacity is 235 gallons, but I assume the full mark on the gauge corresponds to 200 gallons.  That makes every 1/8 of a tank on the gauge correspond to 25 gallons.  We also presume that our average fuel economy, based on prior data, is 6 MPG which equates to 150 miles per 1/8 tank.

We did not fill the tank because the bus is going to be sitting for a while and we did not want to have all of that fuel onboard aging in the summer heat.  There is a reason, however, to keep the fuel tank as full as possible.  Most of the fuel that is pumped to the engine is used to cool the injectors and the DDEC engine computer and returned to the tank. The more fuel in the tank, the less frequently any particular molecule passes through the engine giving the fuel in the tank more time to dissipate the heat.

Our trip was easy and un-eventful other than the powered driver-side windshield shade quite working.  Add that to the list.  We got home by 1:30 PM which gave us time to unload food and a few essentials from the bus and take showers.  Since Linda spent Saturday morning preparing food, she only had minimal cooking to do for dinner.  Our son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter arrived at 3:30 PM and our daughter and son-in-law arrived at 4:00 PM.  Madeline had a cold, wasn’t feeling well, and had only had a short nap, but she was fine as long as she was busy.  This was a combination birthday and Father’s Day gathering, but mostly an excuse to gather our small, immediate family.  We had a lovely summer meal of potato salad, collard greens cole slaw, baked beans, and cheeseburgers with chocolate cupcakes (from a local bakery) and fresh strawberries for dessert.  All vegan, and all delicious.

Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline left shortly after dinner and Meghan and Chris left around 8:00 PM.  Although our morning departure and drive home had been quite routine and the family gathering had been relaxed and relatively easy, it all added up to a long day.  I started the download of an update to my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that looked like it was going to take a while, so we skipped watching an Episode of Doc Martin and turned in for the night.


2014/04/07 (M) Big Wheels Keep On Turning

The boots may have been made for walking, but the wheels were made for turning and it does not make much sense (to us) to own a motorhome and not use the motor to move the home around at least occasionally.  Checkout time at Williston Crossings RV Resort is nominally 11 AM.  We were planning to leave by then, but a call to Suncoast Designers at 9 AM caused us to push our departure time back.  They suggested we not arrive until about 4 PM to make sure we had a place to park with hookups.  That put our departure time target at 2 PM.  We walked up to the office to make sure this would be OK.  It was; we have been here a long time and been good residents, and no one was scheduled to go in to “our” site today.

Given some extra time we had not planned on, we went for one last, long walk around the RV resort.  How different it looked and felt.  The resort is turning over from long-term winter/seasonal use to short-term summer/vacation use and there were many empty sites.  Eighty-nine rigs left yesterday.  Many were Carriage 5th wheels that were part of the 70 rig Carriage Travel Club rally that was here all last week.  But some were winter seasonal residents who have been dribbling out since April 1st and will continue to do so into May.  We were not the only rig pulling out today.  Our other neighbor, Sharon, is leaving this coming Sunday.  A few rigs were pulling in, of course, but the departures currently exceed the arrivals on any given day.

When we returned from our walk I mixed up a batch of the concoction we use in the waste holding tanks (48 oz PineSol, 48 oz water, 1cup Calgon).  I dumped the black-water tank and back-flushed it, followed by dumping the grey-water waste tank.  I ran additional water through the drain hose and then disconnected the hoses and fittings and stowed them for travel.  I reconnected the water softener and filled the fresh-water tank.  Once that was done Linda helped me disconnect, clean, and stow the fresh water hoses and the water softener.

We tend to forego coffee and breakfast on travel days, but had a little of both this morning as we were not leaving right away.  Because of the delay in our departure we did not have lunch.  To pass the time I continued with travel preparations.  The last time I had the coach batteries connected I noticed that the Pressure Pro TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) was not reading one of the sensors (PS outside drive tire).  We have a repeater for this system that I plan to install in the rear of the coach someday, but for now it gets attached to the rear view mirror of the car.  I took care of that task and then decided to move the car up onto the patio next to passenger side of the coach.  I left the ignition on to power the repeater and connected the coach batteries to power the TPMS receiver.  After a few minutes all of the tire sensors were active and the tire pressures were OK for travel.  I disconnected the coach batteries and put the car back in front of the coach.

At 1:30 PM we started our final travel preparations, clearing off the counters and moving stuff from the cockpit to the sofa, the bed, and the bedroom floor.  At 1:45 PM I shut off the 240/120 VAC electrical power to the coach, disconnected the shoreline, and stowed it in the slide-out tray over the DS drive tires.  I installed the screw-in cover for the utility port hole in the bay floor, and closed/locked the bay.  I then checked the Magnum 4024 to make sure it had switched to inverter mode, which it had.

Once the shore power is cut we seem to develop an increased sense of urgency about leaving.  I think this is due, in part, to the fact that I do not have the ZENA power generator operational yet, so our house batteries do not get charged while we are driving.  That’s OK, up to a point; the battery bank was designed to be large enough to run the inverter and power reasonable loads for a reasonable length of time.  But the sooner we leave, the sooner we arrive, and the sooner we arrive, the sooner we can plug back in to shore power.  We have an auxiliary power plant, of course, so we always have the option of using that if needed.  The other reason we are probably anxious to leave is more psychological.  Once we are completely disconnected (physically) we are become disconnected mentally, although not necessarily emotionally.  We are no longer “tethered” to that spot, and that means it is time to go.

I connected the chassis batteries, fired up the engine, and set the level low system to the driving position.  While Linda moved the car to street I drained the auxiliary air tank using the nice dry air from the main engine air compressor.  With John’s assistance we got the coach out of the site and lined up on the street.  Linda pulled the car up behind the coach and we went through our procedure for hooking it up to the tow bar.  We did our standard light check and found that the turn signals on the car were not working.  A quick check of the connectors on both ends of the cable revealed a socket on the car end of the cable that was corroded.  I used the awl on John’s Swiss Army Knife to clean it up.  A recheck of the lights indicated that everything was working.  After a final “goodbye” with John and Ali we were on our way.

Our departure delay meant we would be traveling SSW into the sun at the hottest part of the day.  The air temperature was 85 degrees F when we left, and the engine ran slightly hotter than usual, indicating just above 195 degrees F on the coolant temperature gauge, so I decided not to run the coach air conditioning.  The drive to Hudson was warm, but not unbearable.  A cold front was approaching the gulf coast of Florida so we had increasing cloud cover as we progressed south and west towards the coast, which helped keep the cockpit from getting too warm.

We had a nice run from Williston to Hudson.  We headed south out of Williston on US-41/US-27/FL-121.  US-27/FL-121 split off to the west a mile south of town, made a sweeping turn to the left and then followed a nice straight line SW for 17 miles to its southern terminus at US-19.  This stretch of FL-121 is straight but hilly.  With the cruise control set the engine is very sensitive to hills.  I always know we are on a grade, however slight, by the reaction of the turbo boost gauge and the pyrometers.

Most of the rest of trip was on US-19 except for the last three miles.  Traffic was light until we got to Crystal River, which had slower speed limits, lots of stop lights, and lots of vehicles on the road.  It opened up a bit after Homosassa Springs, but got congested as we approached Weeki Wachee where FL-50 ends at US-19.  From Weeki Wachee to just north of Hudson traffic remained slow and congested with increasingly dense commercial use on both sides of the road and stop lights every mile.  Just north of Hudson we turned east onto Little Road, which immediately swung south, and followed it for about two miles to New York Avenue, where we turned west and went another mile to Labor Place, the location of Suncoast Designers.

The coach ran fine, although the Check Engine Light came on almost immediately and was on more than it was off for the whole trip.  That did not surprise me as we had not done any work over the last couple of months to fix the fuel temperature sensor voltage problem that is apparently setting a fault code in the DDEC II.  I had hoped that the repairs we made in the dashboard wiring harness would fix the speedometer/odometer problem, but they did not; the gauge sat on zero for the whole trip.  The left pyrometer (exhaust gas temperature) gauge, however, was much more responsive and tracked the right pyrometer gauge much more closely than it ever had before.  It appears that the wires we repaired were for this gauge rather than the speedo/odo.

Once we pulled in to Suncoast Designers we pulled to the side of the road, so as not to block traffic, and unhooked the car.  While Linda parked the car I found the office and checked on parking arrangements.  Suncoast Designers has at least a dozen RV sites with water and 50 A electric hookups.  The only one open was a somewhat tight spot between two other large Class A motorhomes that required me to back in.  The maneuver was made more difficult by the fact that the road in front of the sites had a curb on the far side and was not wide enough to allow me to swing the front end without scrubbing the front tires.  I repositioned the coach so that I was turning in from the driver’s side, but Linda and I could not figure out how to get the coach into the site.  The guy next to us on the driver’s side offered to help.  A former truck driver, he knew exactly what to have me do.  Unlike some RVers, our pride is not injured by not knowing how to do something, and we gladly accepted his help.

I pulled past the site close to the front of his rig and then turned out to the passenger side, putting the coach at an angle to the open site.  He had me back part way into the front of the site at that angle and then turn the steer tires full left to start to bring the coach around.  He had me stop and then turn the steer tires full right and pull forward.  Steer tires full left again and back up some more, then full right and pull forward. We repeated this one more time and finally had the coach lined up straight and centered between the coaches on either side without having hit either one!  Linda was keeping an eye on the back of the coach the whole time (to make sure I did not hit anything) and guided me into our final position.  We then leveled the coach and shut the engine down.

The outside air temperature was only in the upper 70’s, but it was 90 degrees F in the coach and the outside humidity was high.  In spite of having nine windows that open, the three ceiling vent fans are not very effective at cooling down the interior under such circumstances.  In theory we can run all three air conditioners on a “50 A” shore service, but we have tripped breakers before when doing that.  (The issue is that circuit breakers are commonly designed to only carry 80% of their rated current on a continuous basis, so two of our A/C units plus a little bit of miscellaneous load can exceed 40 A on one of the legs.)  Besides, as soon as I plugged in the Magnum 4024 was going to switch to charger mode and start recharging the house batteries.

I got the shore power connected and checked the Magnum 4024.  It went into bulk charging mode and started charging the house batteries at 86 Amps. Since it is a 24 VDC charger, it was drawing ~1/5 that much AC current, or ~17 A, the equivalent of one of our air conditioners.  The front (living room) and center (kitchen) A/C’s are on separate legs of the 240/120 VAC power supply, so we can run them at the same time.  The bedroom A/C is on the same leg as the front A/C and the Magnum is on the other leg.  We ran the front and center A/C’s along with Magnum and let the bedroom stay warm for the time being.

Suncoast Designers provides free WiFi for customers camped at their facility, but the signal we thought was theirs indicated it was “filtered” and we had not obtained the login information from the office before it closed.  We used our Verizon MiFi instead and had a good, strong signal.  I had a chance to ask our neighbor (helpful truck driver guy) later, and he said the open signal was the one they were using.  Although it was a weak (one bar) “g” signal, our WiFi Ranger latched on to it without difficulty.

Linda needed a few grocery items and located a Publix grocery store on Little Road less than three miles from Suncoast Designer’s.  As evening settled in we switched off the front A/C and turned on the bedroom unit.  Linda reheated some of the leftover Sloppy Joe’s from the pot luck dinner the night before, and we had that on the skinny buns we have started using, along with a simple spinach salad and a few Fritos corn chips.

After dinner Linda sent e-mails to several of our new friends from WCRVR while I checked in to RVillage and took care of a few e-mails of my own.  The overnight temperature was forecast to only drop into the upper 60’s with high humidity, and with rain starting before sunrise, so we decided to leave the rig closed up and the kitchen and bedroom A/C’s on all night.  We rarely do this because of the noise and because we prefer fresh air, except when it is too warm and/or too humid.  Considering that we had traveled less than 100 miles and been on the road just under two hours today, we both felt like it had been a very long day.  As much as we enjoyed the social life at WCRVR, it was nice to not have anything to do but go to bed and get some rest.


2013_07_05 (Fri) The In-between Time

We awoke to the reality that Escapade was done and life could return to “normal” for a couple of days before the next phase of our adventure.  Just as in a fixed home, part of “normal” is maintenance.  At 8:00 AM John from All Pro Water-Flow showed up to clean the waste tanks (black & gray).  John normally summers in Monument, Colorado and spends winters in Yuma, Arizona.  Business has been slow in Colorado this season because of the fires, and the trip to Gillette for the RV rallies had proved to be a good business move for him.

John cleaned the tanks using water at 2600 PSI fed through a small diameter high pressure hose to a special nozzle.  The nozzle and hose go through a clear adapter inserted into the drain line where it attaches to the tank outlet pipe.  The nozzle tends to pull itself into the tank and this arrangement allows him to control the high pressure line and see the effluent as it comes out and goes into the drain hose (which is obviously hooked to the sewer fitting).  He was able to access the black tank fairly easily as it has a 3″ ID drain pipe with one 90 degree sweep that bends down to exit the bottom of the coach.  The gray tank was an entirely different matter.  The drain is no more than 1.5″ ID and Ts into the 3″ line.  It makes a jog before a final 90 degree elbow (a sharp turn, not a sweeping one) where it’s attached to the tank.  John tried several things and finally switched to a different nozzle with a spring on the end which allowed it to move through tight turns.  The gray tank needed cleaning, but the black tank really needed of cleaning, and I was glad we had this done.  We had not had the tanks cleaned in the four years we have owned the coach, and I can only wonder if/when any prior owners had it done.

Our tank level sensors worked a little better afterwards, but not perfectly.  There could be lots of reasons for that, and getting them to work was not my primary objective as I plan to install the external See Level sensors anyway.  John was patient, persistent, and took the time he needed to get the job done at no extra charge.  This was another good vendor experience and another good learning experience for me.  When I eventually redo the utility bay, I will make some modification to the waste plumbing that makes it much easier to clean the gray tank in the future.

We had noticed on the Escapade Extras newsletter for yesterday that the DOVES C-BOF had arranged for all day training at the American Red Cross office in Gillette. I called the contact person to see if we could get into their two training sessions, but the classes were full.  We discussed future training opportunities that will be available following the 2014 Escapade, and I noted them in my calendar.  I also sent her our contact information via e-mail.

While our next door neighbor Rick was preparing to leave, I e-mailed him our contact information.  I left the patio awning rolled up so he wouldn’t have any clearance issues when pulling out.  He left for Sundance late in the morning.  By that time the sun had pulled around to the southeast so we put the patio awning back out.  It was very warm and cloudy, and the humidity was up a bit, but we didn’t close up and use the ACs.  There was a chance of thunderstorms, but none developed.

Linda did laundry and stopped at the grocery store while I worked on the membership and financial records for our FMCA Freethinkers chapter.  I then returned my attention to the preparation of blog posts, and discovered that I had received a recommendation from Magnum that I had not yet implemented.  A quick trip to the inverter bay and I had the maximum charge rate reset to 80%.  The Magnum ME-ARC remote is a bit confusing at first, but the more I use it the easier it becomes.  The manual, however, is absolutely essential, and I keep a PDF version on my iPad2 and laptop so I don’t have to dig out the paper versions.

I worked at my computer most of the afternoon and early evening.  I’ve been capturing our daily activities using the Note app on my iPad2.  I try to fill them in before bed each night, but they are rarely polished enough to upload to the blog.  I e-mail them to myself and save them on my laptop where I can more easily do final editing and eventually upload them.  I am about a month behind at this point, but I am catching up.  I need to select a photograph or two for each post and then up they go!

We started to go for a walk after dinner but only got as far as VJ & Carol’s motorhome and invited them over for a drink and conversation.  They had never been invited inside a Prevost conversion, so we wanted to unveil the mystery on behalf of all Prevost conversion owners everywhere and help them check that off their bucket list.

When VJ and Carol said their farewell for the evening it was still light enough for a stroll around the RV park.  Many RVs had left during the day, but many were still here.  New vehicles were also arriving, but not in Boxelder RV Park.  Earlier in the day we had noticed lots of horse trailers arriving in the stables area immediately north of Boxelder RV Park.  Linda checked the activities listing for the CAM-PLEX and discovered that a 3-day equestrian event was taking place.  The horse trailers were using a road that comes into the stables from the east.  The horse park and RV park are separated by fences with gates, which were closed and roped off to prevent animal, pedestrian, or vehicle traffic moving between them.  This made good sense; the equestrians wouldn’t want us traipsing amongst their horses any more than we would want horses trotting through the campground.  From our living room we could see them coming and going to the equestrian park, which is apparently due east of Boxelder RV Park.

We had fresh strawberries for a late dessert and turned in for the night.